I grew up a penny-pincher.
I was a penny-pincher, but I always had everything I could ever need and more. I never wanted for anything important. My (wonderful-amazing-incredible-wise) parents taught me from an early age the importance of being self-reliant, and with that, how to use my money wisely.
When I earned money, I would first put a percentage of that money into a fund for helping others, then the largest percentage would go into my savings before I would even touch my "spending" money.
I had summer jobs and participated in the 4-H program. I worked hard in school, and as a result, when college came around, I was able to pay my way through all 4 years of secondary education with the help of scholarships, my savings fund, and my two campus jobs as a peer academic adviser and a personal trainer. Paying for college on my own without taking out any loans is something I was very proud of. For me, it was a major accomplishment. Being financially self-reliant is truly one of the best feelings ever.
The other great part of being self-reliant is that when you are able to take care of yourself, you can turn around and help others if the need arises. You put yourself in a position to be serviceable, and THAT is another one of the best feelings ever.
So, especially in these "lean" years of my husband's medical school, residency, educational debt, and raising a family, I live by the mantra, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I bargain hunt, I use hand-me-downs, I grind my own wheat to make my own bread, use coupons, and pinch my pennies.
While it would be easy for people to think I must feel suppressed/depressed living this way, the opposite is true. I love it! I love knowing I'm doing everything I can to be self-reliant... to be able to help myself, and those around me to the best of my abilities. And when these "lean" years are over, I know I'll look back on them fondly. 'Bigger' doesn't = better. 'More' doesn't = happiness. 'Best of the best' doesn't = ... well... the best.
Monosodium glutamate, cellulose gum, and yellow dye #6 wouldn't be at the top of my list when I think about food.
There are so many chemicals and over-processed ingredients going into the food we buy at the store, and I have trouble pronouncing the names of half of them. I'm not a fan of looking at the mile-long ingredient lists on food labels and reading... and reading... and reading some more. If a can of food has 25 ingredients listed on the label, it's a pretty safe bet that most of what's inside isn't actually "food."
As the quality of the food I find in the store goes down, the prices continue to go up, and it makes NO sense to me.
Don't get me wrong... Not everything I make or eat is "from scratch." I like Ben and Jerry's Half-Baked ice-cream as much as the next person, and I buy produce and other things at the grocery store that aren't exactly fresh from the farm. For me, it's about reconciling how much I spend on groceries with food I can feel good about feeding my family.
Once in a while, a frozen pizza I buy on sale with a coupon might sneak it's way onto my table, and I'm okay with that. Making sure I use my time properly is another important part of the equation. I have a husband, precious children, other interests, and a life that's important to me. Maintaining balance is key!
One day, while whipping up a batch of pancakes for my daughters, I found myself thinking about how much money I was saving by making them from scratch rather than buying frozen pancakes, or Bisquick in the store, and how I could feel good knowing EXACTLY what was in the pancakes the girls would eat that morning.
Later, I started mentally breaking down the cost of pancake ingredients, (had to do a little digging to find a few of them) and realized just how significant the difference between my homemade pancakes and the pre-made pancakes was.
The lightbulb went on so to speak, and I started breaking down costs of other homemade foods and comparing them with their pre-made counter-parts and writing it down for reference. Strange thing to do, I know. But, if you couldn't already tell, I LOVE saving money. It's my favorite.
I started this blog as a way to keep track of all my recipes and the calculations I was doing. Then came the (very amateur) photos, and the hope that maybe I could help inspire a few other people to go the homemade route.
One thing led to another, and Pennies & Pancakes was born.
The plan is to put up 1-2 new posts a week. It's not my intention for this blog to become a full-time job... it's more of a "during the kids' nap and quiet time" and "when my husband has night shifts" kinda thing. I love this... but not as much as I love my family. It's not meant to take precedence over my other responsibilities. It's a fun outlet, and it's information that I feel is valuable, and want to share with others.
Each recipe is tried and true. I won't post anything on here that hasn't been tested by me first, and in many cases, used quite often.
It needs to be said that I am no gourmet. I'm not a professional, and probably never will be. I have very few "nice" gadgets, my favorite whisk is missing its handle, my dishes are no longer "8-piece sets" (my cute kiddos can take credit for most of my dish/utensil casualties), and my kitchen is NOT fancy.
That said, I cook a lot. And I thoroughly enjoy it!
If you have any suggestions to make the recipes better, or have a recipe you'd like to share, or want help figuring out cost breakdowns of your favorite homemade recipes, let me know. I'd love to share what I know, and I'm always on the lookout for new ideas!